All too often, I have clients tell me they want equal parenting time, 50-50, and they will not settle for anything less. For families facing a divorce or non-married couples with children now separating, it is certainly understandable that parents want to spend as much time with their children as possible. For many parents, the prospect of not seeing their children daily as they do now by virtue of living in the same household, is frightening. Particular care needs to be taken in order to develop the best parenting time schedule – one that allows both parents to spend time with their children, and more importantly one that works best for your children. Setting the emotion aside, virtually all parents want what is best for their children.
So how do you determine the best schedule for you and your children? There are a number of parenting time schedules that can work well, depending on your specific situation. Important factors include the age of your children and the work situation of both you and the other parent must be considered. Splitting one household into two is often a financial drain, requiring a non-working parent to return to work. As your divorce or custody issue proceeds, many things in your life will change, which is why it is critical to start your parenting time analysis with a realistic point of view. While it certainly helps when parents have an amicable and respectful co-parenting relationship, this is not always the case. Either way, a parenting time schedule based upon consideration by both parents can minimize difficulties and provide everyone, first and foremost your children, with solid, consistent and meaningful time together. Factors to consider include:
- The age of the children and whether there is a very young child being nursed or primarily cared for by one parent;
- The ability of each parent to be involved in daily schooling responsibilities, including transportation, homework and extra curricular activities;
- The distance between each parent’s home; health issues either parent may be dealing with; and the parent’s ability to amiably and respectfully co-parent.
There are a number of ways to implement the “best” schedule for your situation including a week-on/week-off schedule, a “2-5-5-2” schedule, or simply a schedule that both of you as parents have arranged based upon your particular situation. It is never a “one size fits all.” While parenting time schedules need to be determined upon a case-by-case, every situation should have a specific parenting time schedule in place through a court order. Even if you and the other parent are working well together today, this may not always be the case. All too often, parents with good intentions agree to terms like “reasonable and liberal parenting time” to later learn that each has a different interpretation of what is reasonable and liberal.
Every family is different and a schedule that works for others may not work for you. In most cases, determining the best schedule, rather than an equal split for the sake of being equal, helps minimize the difficulties that you and your children will no doubt face as you separate one household into two. Contact me at (248) 647-7900 to discuss your individual situation.